The use of private prisons by states and the federal government continues to increase, yielding billions in annual revenues for two dominant companies in the industry -- despite a lack of solid research that America's experiment with for-profit incarceration actually saves taxpayers money in the long run.
A new report by The Sentencing Project, "Too Good to Be True: Private Prisons in America," delves into the history and growth of private prison operators and reaches some fairly bleak conclusions.
The industry is thriving: While the overall prison population grew by 17 percent in the last decade, the number of inmates shipped to private operations went up by 80 percent. Roughly one out of twelve state and federal prisoners is currently in a for-profit hoosegow, one probably operated by either Corrections Corporation of America or the GEO Group; the two companies control more than half the contracts.
Colorado has stashed about a fifth if its inmates in private prisons, such as CCA's Bent County Correctional Facility (scene of this "natural" death) and Crowley County Correctional Facility (target of a long-running lawsuit over a 2004 riot). But the state has become less reliant on the private companies to handle its overload in recent years as its overall inmate population has declined. The greatest growth area has been in contracts with the federal government, which has seen a whopping 784 percent surge in its use of the privateers since 1999, thanks largely to "War on Drugs" sentencing provisions and other legislation that has packed the U.S. Bureau of Prisons' existing facilities.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Saturday, January 14, 2012